Date: May 09, 2008

Fraser shadows Daly

Australian Marcus Fraser and New Zealand&aposs Gareth Paddison share 14th place alongside American big-hitter John Daly after the first round of the Italian Open in Milan. The trio is among a group of 10 players on five-under-par after solid opening-day rounds of 67. Englishman Ross McGowan equalled the lowest round of his brief European Tour career to share the overnight lead with Paraguayan Marco Ruiz at eight-under. On a day of low scoring, Daly bounced back from his missed cut at last week&aposs Spanish Open – he actually led midway through his round – while Ryder Cup hopeful Nick Dougherty, playing just two days after his mother&aposs funeral, managed a 71. Fraser started perfectly with a birdie on his opening hole and an eagle on the 9th but those shots were cancelled out with bogeys on the 8th and 10th. The Australian recovered well, however, to post four birdies on the inward nine to be well in contention just three strokes behind the leaders. Paddison, meanwhile, had a mixed start with two bogeys and a birdie on the first fives holes, before coming home strongly with an eagle and four birdies. Aussie Matthew Millar is just one stroke behind, in a large group at four-under. Runner-up on the &apossecond division&apos Challenge Tour after two wins last year, 2006 English amateur champion McGowan had four successive birdies from the 13th as he turned in a superb 30. Two more birdies in his last four holes completed his day&aposs work – and prompted playing partner and former Ryder Cup star Peter Baker to say: “That&aposs the best display of driving I&aposve since since Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam.” Ruiz is ranked only 410th in the world, but won in Argentina in December and was leading for a while in Seville last Sunday before slipping back to 15th. Another Paraguayan, Fabrizio Zanotti, is also in the top 10 after a 66. Dougherty, who chose to play this week because he knows his mother wanted him to, said before his first round that he might score &apos67 or 87&apos. The 25-year-old was glad it was far closer to the former than the latter, but he may well need a 69 on Friday just to survive the halfway cut. “I felt a bit emotional on the first tee and it was tough,” he said. “It&aposs just a weird feeling. I felt a bit cloudy all day.” “I&aposve got to get on with it, though, because she will get in a huff. She will be gutted by that today.” Daly was delighted to have shown some improvement in his game at long last, having made it through to the weekend in only two of his 10 events in America this season and having failed in Seville as well. The 42-year-old former Open champion, who has slumped to 609th in the world, underwent stomach surgery a month ago and added: “This is the healthiest I&aposve been in more than a year – it was brutal with the pain and it&aposs nice to have my swing back.” He had five birdies in six holes around the turn, dropped a shot at the 6th – his 15th – but finished by getting up and down from a bunker for yet another birdie. McGowan and Ruiz lead by a stroke from World Cup-winning Scot Marc Warren, England&aposs Mark Foster and South African Hennie Otto. Of the other Australasians in the field, Scott Barr is at two-under, Peter Fowler at even-par and Steve Alker at three-over, while Terry Pilkadaris had a disastrous nine-over 81. First Round Scores from the Golf Italian Open, Milan, Italy -8: Ross McGowan 64, Marco Ruiz 64 -7: Mark Foster 65, Hennie Otto 65, Marc Warren 65, Gregory Bourdy 66 -6: Estanisalo Goya 66, Per-Ulrik Johannson 66, Soren Kjeldsen 66, Alexander Noren 66, Steve Webster 66, Oliver Wilson 66, Fabrizio Zanotti 66 -5: Rafael Cabrera Bello 67, John Daly 67, Marcus Fraser (Australia) 67 Marcus Fraser 67, Raphael Jacquelin 67, Jose-Filipe Lima 67, Eduardo Molinari 67, Christian Nilsson 67, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 67 Also: -4: Matthew Millar (Australia) 68 -2: Scott Barr (Australia) 70 Par: Peter Fowler (Australia) 72 +3: Steve Alker (New Zealand) 75 +9: Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 81